Deke Slayton

  • ASTP (1975)

Donald Kent " Deke " Slayton ( born March 1, 1924 in Sparta, Wisconsin, † June 13, 1993 in League City, Texas) was an American astronaut. He belonged to the first astronaut group, which was selected in 1959. However, he made his first and only space flight in 1975 as part of the Apollo - Soyuz Test Project.

Start of career

At Slaytons 18th birthday, March 1, 1942 he joined the U.S. Air Force. After his training as a pilot, he was transferred to Europe where he flew bombing missions in 1943 and 1944 sets. Mid-1944, he returned to the United States and served as a flight instructor for bomber pilots. In April 1945 he returned again as a pilot to the front back, this time for operations against Japan.

From 1946 he studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Minnesota and in 1949 hired by the Boeing Aircraft Corporation in Seattle, where he worked on electrical systems and wing shapes.

1951 Slayton served in the Air National Guard, first in Minneapolis, Minnesota, later in Bitburg, Germany. There he met Marjorie Lunney, whom he married on 15 May 1955.

Slayton returned in June 1955 returned to the U.S. and enrolled in test pilot school in the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base. From January 1956 to April 1959 he was there a test pilot.

Mercury astronaut without flight

Slayton was one of the 110 test pilots, who came to the shortlisted for the future astronaut group of NASA. He passed all tests and was among the group of the Mercury Seven, the seven astronauts who were introduced to the public on April 9, 1959.

Each of the seven astronauts got a special field assigned to ensure that the experience of the test pilots could be incorporated into the development. Slayton should pay particular care to the Atlas rocket that would take the Mercury spacecraft into orbit.

It was planned that some of the astronauts should make a ballistic flight first, which would powered by a Redstone rocket. Slaytons flight MR -6 ( Mercury - Redstone ), the fourth launch of a Mercury spacecraft was scheduled for autumn 1961.

After the successful orbits of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and German Titov, the number of suborbital flights Redstone was reduced to three, which Slayton would have made the first American in orbit. However, when the Redstone flights of Alan Shepard and Virgil Grissom were successful, the third manned Mercury flight should already lead an Atlas rocket into orbit. On November 29, 1961 John Glenn and Slayton were given as crews for the MA -6 and MA -7 in December announced in April 1962.

Slayton had his flight called Delta 7, but he did not get to fly into space. Due to a heart problem, the NASA, however, was known since 1959, Slayton was denied the ability to fly on March 15, 1962. Instead of his spare man Walter Schirra flew Scott Carpenter on May 24, the MA- 7 mission, which he called the Aurora 7, and Schirra on October 30, MA -8.

Desk career

Although Slayton took the time being at the astronaut training and medical examinations in part, but took over within NASA, more and more administrative tasks. He was appointed coordinator of astronaut activities and directed the astronauts newly established office for the projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. In 1963 he became deputy at a restructuring of NASA Director of Flight Crew Operations, from 1966 its director.

In November 1963, Slayton retired from the U.S. Air Force, but was still inactive NASA astronaut.

Slayton was thus responsible for assigning specific missions, the astronauts of Gemini and Apollo. He was the one who decided who controlled which spaceship, and who was allowed to walk on the moon.

In the Hollywood film about the Apollo 13 mission, he was presented in 1995 by Chris Ellis.

The late flight into space

In the meantime, Slayton did everything might return to the active astronaut status: he made daily exercises, quit smoking and drinking coffee on and cut down on alcohol consumption. His heart problem disappeared in the summer of 1970, and so the full flight capability for manned space travel it was after extensive investigations in March 1972 re- certify. On February 9, 1973 Slayton was assigned along with Tom Stafford and Vance Brand the Apollo - Soyuz Test Project, the first American-Soviet rendezvous in space.

There followed a two-year intensive training, which included learning the Russian language and numerous trips to the USSR. Slayton had to leave it behind as a director of flight operations from February 1974 his work.

The flight took place from 15 July to 24 July, 1975, Slayton took over the task of the docking module pilot. With 51 years he was the hitherto oldest space rookie. The Apollo spacecraft docked in orbit on Soyuz 19, and the astronauts and cosmonauts were able to switch on the docking module of a spaceship in the other. Slayton spent an hour and 35 minutes aboard the Soyuz. With the return of the Apollo spacecraft, it would still almost come to a disaster. After the parachutes were triggered manually, set fire to the attitude control jets, and a balancing valve flocked toxic gases in the landing capsule. Fortunately, stayed with the three astronauts returned no damage.

The Shuttle

The ASTP was the last flight of an Apollo spacecraft, and NASA concentrated on the new space shuttle space shuttle. As of December 1975, Slayton Director of the approach and landing test program ( Approach and Landing Tests, briefly: ALT ) of the shuttle Enterprise in California.

After the end of the project in November 1977 to February 1982 he was manager of the Orbital Flight Training program and prepared the first six flights of the Space Shuttle before. Slayton was also responsible for the transfer of the shuttle with a converted Boeing 747.

According to the NASA

Slayton resigned on 27 February 1982 from NASA and became President of Space Services Inc., a private company in the space industry, which in 1983 successfully launched the Conestoga rocket. In addition, he also took over duties and positions in other companies and organizations. In 1983 he married a second time.

Deke Slayton died on June 13, 1993 in League City at the age of 69 years to a brain tumor.